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Management & Leadership
Ka Hsaw Wa, Co-Founder and Executive Director, is a member of the Karen ethnic nationality of Burma. He was one of the student leaders in the 1988 nation-wide student uprising for democracy and freedom, and has been a human rights activist since he fled Burma in 1988. As well as managing and directing the overall operations of EarthRights International, Ka Hsaw Wa coordinates a grassroots field staff that has successfully documented human rights and environmental abuses within Burma. The evidence collected has served as a cornerstone in the ground-breaking lawsuit against Unocal and in the decision of the International Labor Organization to pressure Burma’s brutal regime. Ka Hsaw Wa has been awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, Reebok Human Rights Award, Whitley Fund for Nature/Sting and Trudie Styler Award for Human Rights and the Environment, the Conde Nast Environmental Award, and the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership for his work in defense of human rights and the environment. Ka Hsaw Wa splits his time between the U.S. and Southeast Asia offices.
Chana Maung, Southeast Asia Office Director, has been with ERI since 1997, and is currently responsible for leading and overseeing all of ERI Southeast Asia’s program work, fact-finding and research activities. He also provides oversight for management issues, such as hiring and finances in Asia. Chana is a Karen man, who has worked for years to document forced labor, violence, economic and social rights violations in Burma. Chana has received training from the School for International Training in NGO management. He also has additional training in conflict resolution. Chana speaks Thai, Karen, Burmese, and English.
Katie Redford, Esq., Co-Founder and Director, is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where she received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Human Rights and Public Service. She is a member of the Massachusetts State Bar and served as counsel to plaintiffs in ERI's landmark case Doe v. Unocal. Katie received an Echoing Green Fellowship in 1995 to establish ERI, and since that time has split her time between ERI's Thailand and US offices. In addition to working on ERI's litigation and teaching at the EarthRights Schools, Katie serves as an adjunct professor of law at both UVA and the Washington College of Law at American University, and also on the Boards of the Bank Information Center (BIC), the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), and Oil Change International. She has published on various issues associated with human rights and corporate accountability. In 2006, she was selected as an Ashoka Global Fellow. Katie has been profiled in the books Be Bold and Your America: Democracy's Local Heroes, and the award-winning documentary film Total Denial.
Marie Soveroski, Managing Director, lived and worked for 15 years in Europe, where she served as Director of the European Centre for Judges and Lawyers, the Luxembourg-based Antenna of the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA), from 2001-2005. Prior to that she worked out of EIPA headquarters in Maastricht (NL) on legal and capacity building projects in the countries in transition in Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe. Her focus and passion has been environmental law and protection, as well as human rights issues, which she has pursued both as a lawyer and as an activist. She has an LLM in International and Comparative Law, which she earned at the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels (B). She earned her JD at Gonzaga University School of Law as a Thomas More Scholar, a full-tuition scholarship program for persons pursuing a career in law in the public interst. She has Bachelors degrees in Biology and Environmental Resource Management. She has both US and Dutch nationality.
Southeast Asia Office
Naing Htoo, Acting Burma Campaigns Director, is a Karen man and graduate from the EarthRights School. He has worked with ERI since 1998, coordinating ERI’s documentation on forced labor, particularly surrounding development projects in Burma. Naing Htoo also conducts advocacy with international financial institutions on Burma. His research and fact-finding have reached key policymakers at the International Labour Organization, the United Nations, and various governments around the world. Naing Htoo speaks Skaw Karen, Thai, Burmese and English.
Nang Aung, Administrative Associate, joined ERI as an Administrative Associate in July 2004. She previously worked with Shan Women's Action Network as a volunteer on a women's education project and also worked for some time with the Shan School (SSSNY) as their Office Manager. Nang Aung completed a Women and Development Course run by the Women's League of Burma in 2003. She speaks Shan, Thai, English, Burmese and Chinese (Mandarin).
Raa Hoo Lar, Burma Alumni Local Program Coordinator is responsible for overall coordination of the Burma Alumni program. He is a member of the Pa-O ethnic group and has worked with the Pa-O Youth Organization and Ethnic Cooperation for Human Rights and Environment since 2001. He graduated the EarthRights School in 2002 and worked as a training coordinator at the Mae Tao Clinic for three years in Mae Sot. He has conducted several workshops and trainings along the Thai-Burma border on issues such as human rights, environment, and social change. He speaks Pa-O, Burmese, English, and Thai.
Daniel King, Southeast Asia Legal Director, coordinates ERI’s legal program in the Mekong sub-region, including the Mekong Legal Advocacy Institute and Mekong Legal Network programs. Prior to joining ERI, Daniel worked as a legal advisor to Cambodian public interest lawyers representing urban, rural and indigenous communities fighting for their land rights. He has experience with international legal advocacy and community engagement. Daniel has also worked as a lawyer in the environment and planning jurisdiction in Australia, representing both corporate and public interest clients. Daniel holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences and Bachelor of Laws from Sydney University and is completing a Masters of Public and International Law at Melbourne University. He is admitted to legal practice in New South Wales, Australia. Daniel speaks basic legal Khmer and is learning Thai.
Paul Donowitz, Esq., Campaign Director, is a 2003 graduate of Columbia University Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar along with serving on the Human Rights Law Review and in the Human Rights Clinic. He then worked as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Service Employees International Union, focusing on new market organizing in the public sector. He has served as national coordinator for an international human rights organization. Other experience includes work for Social Accountability International, a labor standard setting and accreditation organization, and experience conducting research and training in India with a human rights group. Paul holds an undergraduate degree in South Asian Studies and Sociology from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Zaw Zaw, Program Associate, joined ERI's campaigns team in 2010 after graduating from the EarthRights School Burma in 2008 and interning with ERI in 2009. Zaw Zaw is responsible for fact-finding for ERI's work in Burma. Previously, he worked at Network for Environment and Economic Development (NEED) as Student Coordinator and at the National Youth Forum as an intern. He studied law at the University of Sittwe. Zaw Zaw is from the Arakan ethnic group.
Ross Dana Flynn, Web & IT Coordinator (SE Asia), is a graduate of American University's School of International Service in Washington, DC. Before joining ERI, Ross worked as a travel photographer and web designer throughout Southeast Asia. He currently manages technology and communications for ERI's Southeast Asia offices. Ross speaks English and Japanese.
Cecile Medail, Coordinator, Alumni Program Myanmar, works to strengthen the capacity of EarthRights School Burma alumni and their organizations, as well as to support the expansion of the alumni network inside the country. Cecile has a Master of Laws specializing in public and international law from the University of Lyon, France. She has been involved in capacity building programs aimed at supporting young Burmese activists in Thailand for a number of years. She has worked primarily in human rights training, as head teacher for a women's political empowerment program, and as a foreign affairs teacher. Cecile is a native French speaker who also speaks English and Thai. She is currently learning Burmese.
Rowan Ryrie, Myanmar Legal Coordinator, works closely with the Myanmar campaigns team to coordinate ERI’s legal programme in Myanmar. Rowan joined ERI as a Legal Fellow with the Mekong Legal Program in August 2012 and has experience working with international NGOs in Europe to campaign for law reform and improved law enforcement on issues including international environmental justice, access to justice, biodiversity protection and indigenous human rights. Rowan is qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales and has experience of using international and European as well as UK law. Rowan holds a Graduate Diploma in Law from City University, London and an undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge University. Rowan speaks some Spanish and is currently learning Burmese.
Maureen Harris, Mekong Legal Associate, provides environmental and human rights legal support and advocacy for local and regional efforts to ensure individual and community rights and access to law and justice. The geographical focus of her work is on Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Maureen holds a Master of Laws specialising in human rights and social justice from the University of New South Wales and bachelor degrees in Law and Arts from the University of Sydney, Australia. Prior to joining ERI, she managed human rights programs in the Asia-Pacific, with a focus on China and Vietnam, for the Australian Human Rights Commission. She has also worked on human rights and humanitarian law research and capacity building projects with the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre in India and the Danish Red Cross. Maureen has previously studied Mandarin Chinese and is currently learning Thai.
Lauren Nishimura, Mekong Legal Associate, provides environmental and human rights legal support and advocacy for local and regional efforts to ensure individual and community rights and access to law and justice. The geographical focus of her work is on Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Lauren holds bachelor degrees in English and Psychology from Vassar College and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a Dean’s Scholar. She is also completing her Masters in International Human Rights Law through the University of Oxford, with a focus on climate change and human migration. Prior to joining ERI, Lauren practiced environmental law and litigation for seven years in San Francisco, California and specialized in renewable energy issues. She is currently learning Thai.
EarthRights Schools - Southeast Asia
Khin Nanda, Program Coordinator, EarthRights School Burma, assists with coordinating the ERS training program, helps to create a positive, cooperative learning environment and assists participants with translation. She co-facilitates classes on environmental issues and conflict transformation. Khin Nanda is a Shan alumna of the EarthRights School, and she has also received advanced training of trainers as well as participated in a conflict resolution short-course at the School for International Training (SIT) in Vermont in the United States. She interned with ERI's Burma Project for six months before joining the EarthRights School in late 2001.
Tong Teng, Administrative Associate, is a member of the Karen ethnic group and has worked at the school since 2001. His responsibilities have grown significantly with time, and now include accounting, buildings and grounds maintenance and coordinating overall logistics. He took a four-month computer class in 2003 in preparation for overseeing our computerized accounting. Tong Teng speaks Skaw Karen, Po Karen, Thai, Burmese, and English.
Sabrina Kathleen, Program Coordinator, EarthRights School Mekong, is responsible for overall coordination of EarthRights International's training programs. Sabrina has worked in refugee camps in Thailand, and with refugee and immigrant communities in the US. She holds an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and MA in International Studies from the University of Oregon. She comes to ERI after a number of years with the Chiang Mai University Women’s Studies Center, where she developed curriculum and organized exposure trips and seminars on human rights, environmental justice and the impacts of globalization on women in the Mekong region. Sabrina speaks fluent Thai, Lao, and English, and basic Khmer and Mandarin.
Prajak Srikhampa (Tho), Program Assistant, EarthRights School Mekong, is an activist from Phrae province of Northern Thailand. Over the past decade, Tho has served as a leader in the Takorn Yom youth group, campaigning to protect his home town from the controversial Kaeng Seua Ten dam project. Most recently, he worked with the IUCN and Southeast Asia Rivers Network (SEARIN) to conduct research on the effects of dams on communities in North and Northeast Thailand. He also assisted in coordinating the Second International Meeting of Dam Affected People and their Allies in Rasi Salai, Thailand in November of 2003. Tho speaks Thai, Lao and English.
Nyein Tun, Training Associate, EarthRights School Burma is responsible for assisting with activities at ERSB. Prior to joining the ERI team, Nyein Tun was a 2006 graduate of the program and served as an intern supporting students needs inside and outside the classroom. He is a member of the Arakanese ethnic group and completed his first year study in Geography, at the University of Sittwe. He has worked for the Network for Environment and Economic Development and in 2007 he was nominated to be the Secretary of the EarthRights Student Union.
Weerachat Kaewpradit (Tom), Mekong Alumni Program Coordinator, is a native of Mae Taeng, Thailand, and studied International Relations at Chiang Mai University. He has several years' experience in youth organizing. He served on the Youth Advisory Panel of the United National Population Fund, on the Media Team for the ASEAN Youth Forum, was elected Thai youth representative at the ASEAN +3 Youth Enviornment Forum, and worked with many alumni of the EarthRights School Mekong at the ASEAN Youth Forum and ASEAN Peoples' Forum, where he was nominated to present the peoples' testimony on behalf of ASEAN youth.
Nang Shining, Training Coordinator, EarthRights School Mekong, is a graduate of the EarthRights Mekong School (2006), where she conducted fieldwork focused on the environmental and social impacts of Salween Dams projects in eastern Shan State. She joined the EarthRights Mekong program after coming to Thailand in 2005, where she began working with Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization (SSEO) as a volunteer. Afterwards, she joined an internship program at Images Asia Environment Desk. Upon graduation from the Mekong School, she interned with the NGO Forum on the ADB in Manila, Philippines and later worked with Images Asia Environmental Organization. Afterward, she worked with the Earthrights Mekong School as Mekong Alumni Program Coordinator. Her concerns for human rights and a sound environment inspired her to pursue a recently completed Master of Arts in International Development Studies at Chulalongkorn University, with a focus on Salween Dams and Corporate Social Responsibilities in Mekong Region. She had previously received her Bachelor of Science Physics (B.Sc Physices) from Taunggyi University, Southern Shan State, Myanmar after completing her Diploma on Secondary Assistance of Teacher from Taunggyi Education College.
Eliza Costello, Training Coordinator, EarthRights School Burma received a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in Distributive Justice and minors in Creative Writing and Chinese. She volunteered with the Friends of Farmworkers Law Firm in Philadelphia to improve the conditions of farmworkers, and worked as a news reporter for ChinaOnTV.com in Shanghai. Most recently, she worked in Prey Veng, Cambodia researching women’s health and sanitation for the Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC). She is a native speaker of English, speaks Mandarin Chinese, has a basic knowledge of Spanish and Khmer and is currently learning Thai.
Billy Doerner, Training Director, EarthRights Schools Southeast Asia, coordinates and oversees ERI’s Mekong and Myanmar Schools, developing curriculum and teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) courses including; English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and Report Writing. Prior to joining ERI, Billy worked with Maryknoll Thailand for seventeen years. He co-founded the Integrated Rural Development Center (IRDC) in Surat Thani which serves farmers, especially women, in developing sustainable agricultural income generation projects. In Chiang Mai, he co-founded the Ponsawan Child Development Center (PCDC) which serves disadvantaged ethnic minority children in northern Thailand. Billy holds a B.S. in Entomology from Oklahoma State University and an M.S. in Agricultural Education from Oregon State University. Billy is a native speaker of English and is fluent in Thai.
K. Thien, Mekong Alumni Fellow, graduated from the EarthRights School Mekong in 2011. As an ERSM student, she did her fieldwork on the impacts of the Dong Nai River dams on indigenous communities in central Vietnam. After graduation, Thien joined many of our Mekong Alumni at the ASEAN Youth Forum and ASEAN People's Forum in Phnom Penh, and the Southeast Asia Renewable Energy Peoples’ Assembly in Malaysia. She recently earned a diploma in Environmental Science, and wrote her thesis on the causes of water pollution in Ho Chi Minh City. In addition to Vietnamese and English, she also speaks basic Thai.
Ximena Warnaars, Amazon Program Coordinator, is an anthropologist who has worked as a coordinator, researcher, and activist on issues relating to human rights, indigenous people, and environmental justice. For almost ten years her work has focused on mining and oil conflicts involving indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon and Ecuador. She co-initiated a program to support Quechua women affected by mining activities in Apurimac and Cusco, Peru. She worked as an activist and performed extensive research on the impacts of large scale mining projects in Ecuador’s southern Amazon while living in the Cordillera del Cóndor. Ximena worked with communities affected by the oil and gas industry in the Peruvian Amazon in particular with the Shipibo-Konibo peoples affected by Maple Gas in the Peruvian Amazon, while working for the regional AIDESEP organisation ORAU. She is an active member and editor of the Mines and Communities network. She was a lecturer in the Amazonian Studies Masters Program at the University of San Marcos. Ximena holds a BA and MA in Anthropology from the University of Utrecht and is a PhD candidate at the School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester.
Benjamin Hoffman, Amazon Staff Attorney, is a 2011 graduate of Harvard Law School, where he received the Dean’s Award for Community Leadership for his work in the area of human rights. While in law school, Benjamin worked with Harvard’s International Human Rights Clinic, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Colombian NGO DeJuSticia. Through this work, Benjamin has provided legal, policy, and advocacy support to communities in Latin America, South Africa and the United States affected by development projects, resource extraction, armed conflict, state violence, and Apartheid. Benjamin has joined EarthRights on an external fellowship to help get our new Amazon office off the ground while exploring methodologies for empowering affected communities relative to multinational corporations through transnational litigation and other advocacy strategies.
Lily la Torre Lopez, Senior Amazon Consultant, was born in the Peruvian Amazon and graduated with degrees in law and philosophy from the Pontifical Catholic University of Perú. Prior to joining ERI, Lily was the Director of the Peruvian NGO Grupo de Trabajo Racimos de Ungurahui, where she worked since 1995. With Racimos, Lily has worked with ERI’s legal team on its litigation against Occidental Petroleum. Lily has provided advice and training to indigenous federations at the local and national levels, mainly on legal issues related to the exploitation of natural resources of the Amazon forest by national and international companies, and the environmental and social impacts resulting from these activities on indigenous lands; this work resulted in a historic 2006 environmental remediation agreement between Achuar, Quichua, and Urarina communities of the Corrientes River Basin and the Argentine oil company Pluspetrol. Since 1985, she has also been a member of the legal advisory team of the National Legal Defense Program of Amazon indigenous organizations in Perú and the Interethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Jungle, AIDESEP.
Marco Simons, Esq., Legal Director, is a graduate of Yale Law School, where he received the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowship in International Human Rights to work with EarthRights International. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable Dorothy Wright Nelson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He then worked for Hadsell & Stormer, Inc., a Pasadena civil rights law firm, which is co-counsel with ERI on Doe v. Unocal and Bowoto v. Chevron. He also served as Communications Director for the campaign of Ro Khanna for U.S. Congress in California's 12th District, and has taught human rights law at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Marco holds an undergraduate degree in environmental science and, prior to law school, worked on developing educational materials on conservation biology. He is currently admitted to practice in California, Washington DC, and Washington state.
Richard L. Herz, Esq., Litigation Coordinator, is a 1993 Order of the Coif graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served on the Virginia Law Review. In 1994, he clerked for the Hon. Raymond A. Jackson, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia. Rick was the 1997-1998 Natural Resources Law Institute Fellow at Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College, where he wrote"Litigating Environmental Abuses Under the Alien Tort Claims Act: A Practical Assessment" , an article about suing multinational corporations for environmental abuses under the Alien Tort Claims Act. He is a member of the New York State Bar. At ERI, Rick directs our work on cases against multinational corporations for international human rights and environmental abuses. As such he is co-counsel for the plaintiffs in Doe v. Unocal, Bowoto v. Chevron, Sahu v. Union Carbide and Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. He has also filed amicus briefs in various U.S. Circuit and District courts on behalf of NGOs and law professors in important human rights cases, and he advises human rights and environmental activists and lawyers on international law.
Jonathan Kaufman, Legal Advocacy Coordinator, holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School (2006) and a Master in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton (2008). He has worked on human rights and land rights issues at both the international and local level. Jonathan has been a member of the legal team on two cases in front of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, represented dozens of clients in front of public housing authorities and disability benefits review boards, and researched and written on human rights and indigenous issues in Guyana, Tanzania, and Taiwan. In 2002-2003, after graduating from Yale University with both a B.A. and M.A. in Chinese, Jonathan was a Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan. He speaks Mandarin Chinese, French, and Spanish.
Maggie Schuppert, Development Director, is primarily responsible for coordinating ERI's grant submissions, foundation relations and proposal writing. Most recently, she was residing in San Francisco where she was the Development Coordinator at the Global Citizen Center, a non-profit initiative of Global Exchange, which works to promote our transition to a Green Economy. Prior to this, Maggie was at the Social Science Research Council's Program on Global Security and Cooperation, where she provided support to the Program's various projects including the administration of an international fellowship program aimed at nurturing innovative research and collaboration between academics and practitioners around the issues of human security. She holds a BSFS from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and an MA in International Relations from the University of Essex (UK) where she focused her studies on human and environmental rights and normative political theory.
Brad Weikel, Communications Director, is experienced in print, online & multimedia communications, as well as software engineering. In his previous position, he was the Managing Editor for gnovis, Georgetown University's peer-reviewed Journal of Communication, Culture & Technology (CCT). Prior to that, he was webmaster for the Middle East Institute. He holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Washington and an MA in Communication, Culture & Technology from Georgetown University, where he studied emerging social media systems and collaborative production and wrote a thesis on procedural tropes in software development practices.
Patrick Boyle, Development Associate, works on individual donations, donor outreach, event planning, and assists in all other aspects of the development program. Patrick Graduated from Tulane University with a B.A. in English in 2007. During his time at Tulane, he worked with the New Orleans chapter of M.I.M.A. Music, a non profit music education organization. Patrick was also actively involved in Tulane’s music program, and played guitar in the first incarnation of the Tulane University Jazz band to be invited to play at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. After graduating, he worked as an Americorps volunteer for a New Orleans based Hurricane Recovery group, and most recently, as part of the development team at the Disaster Accountability Project.
Marissa Vahlsing, Global Human Rights Attorney graduated in 2011 from Harvard Law School, where she was awarded both a Henigson Human Rights Fellowship and a Sheldon Fellowship to work with ERI for a year. While at Harvard, Marissa spent two years working as a clinical student on human rights cases involving both international advocacy and federal litigation under the Alien Tort Statute. During this time, Marissa conducted fieldwork and worked with clients in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ghana and South Africa, and helped to write amicus briefs in several other ATS cases. Marissa holds a B.A. in Political Science from Swarthmore College (2006), where she received a Harry S. Truman scholarship to pursue a career in public service and to work with the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) before attending law school. She is currently admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey.
Marice Sy, Strategic Communications Associate, recently graduated from the George Washington University, with a BA in International Affairs and concentrations in International Development and Visual Arts. Marice has previously provided design and brand management for several organizations, including Provisions Library and HSGH. She was born and raised in Manila, Philippines and speaks both Mandarin and Tagalog.
* For security reasons, some ERI staff members have elected to withhold their names or surnames from our website.